Although the homeless pet population issue is a real concern that is directly tied to failure to spay and neuter pets, many other problems can be caused by leaving pets intact, including cancer. In fact, pets who are not spayed or neutered routinely suffer from a wide variety of reproductive emergencies, which can be life-threatening if not promptly treated. If your pet is not spayed or neutered, they may develop one of the following reproductive emergencies.
#1: Pyometra in female pets
Pyometra is a uterine bacterial infection associated with hormonal changes in female pets, and typically occurs four to six weeks after estrus. Signs, treatment, and prognosis are based on a pyometra’s classification as “open” or “closed,” depending on whether the cervix is open to allow the pus and infection to drain. If your pet has developed a pyometra, you may notice:
- Decreased appetite
- Increased thirst and urination
Signs can rapidly progress to shock and death without proper treatment.
#2: Endometritis in female pets
Endometritis in female pets occurs in the post-partum period, generally one to seven days after giving birth. This uterine inflammation occurs when progesterone levels are low, unlike a pyometra, and may be caused by an infection following uterine damage from giving birth, abortion, dystocia, retained placenta, or a retained fetus. Endometritis signs in female pets include:
- Weight loss in puppies or kittens because of decreased lactation
- Neglect of puppies or kittens
- Foul-smelling vulvar discharge
Medications can expel a retained placenta or fetus, or immediate spaying may be necessary.
#3: Mastitis in female pets
More common in dogs than cats, female pets can develop mastitis, or inflammation of the mammary chain, after giving birth. Caused by a bacterial infection from poor sanitary conditions, trauma inflicted by the offspring, or whole-body infection, mastitis may involve a single gland, or multiple glands. Pets who develop mastitis may show the following signs:
- Poor appetite
- Neglect of the puppies or kittens
- Hot, swollen glands
Warm compresses must be applied to the affected glands four to six times per day to prevent an abscess from forming.
#4: Dystocia in female pets
Many factors can cause a difficult or abnormal birth in pets, including uterine inertia, reproductive tract issues, an oversized fetus, or an abnormally positioned fetus. Rather than letting your pet struggle through a difficult delivery, head to our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center if you notice the following issues:
- No signs of labor 24 hours after the body temperature has dropped below 100 degrees
- Active uterine contractions lasting longer than an hour without producing a puppy or kitten
- A resting period during labor that lasts more than four to six hours
- Failure to initiate labor at the end of the gestation period
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- More than one week overdue
- Obvious pain or illness in the pet
If you are unsure whether your pet’s delivery is progressing normally, call us.
#5: Uterine prolapse in female pets
During labor, or up to 48 hours after giving birth, the uterus can prolapse in female pets because the cervix is open. Uterine prolapse is rare, and more common in cats than dogs. Prolapse of both uterine horns generally occurs after the entire litter is delivered, but a single uterine horn can prolapse, leaving babies in the other horn. If you notice fleshy tissue protruding from your pet’s vulva, contact us immediately.
#6: Prostatitis in male pets
Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland and is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Acute prostate infections can warrant an emergency veterinary visit, before an abscess develops. If your pet has developed a prostate problem, you may notice the following signs:
- Bloody or purulent urethral discharge
- Stiff gait
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty urinating or defecating
#7: Paraphimosis in male pets
Paraphimosis is the inability to retract the penis into the prepuce, and usually occurs after breeding. The skin at the preputial opening traps the extruded penis, cutting off circulation. Without prompt treatment, the penis can become severely swollen, dry, and painful. Treatment is relatively simple if the problem is caught before severe swelling occurs, but serious cases can require surgical treatment.
#8: Testicular torsion in male pets
Testicular torsions occur most often in cryptorchid pets, in whom one or both testicles are stuck in the abdomen and do not descend into the scrotum. These retained testicles are at an increased risk for testicular cancer and torsion, which occurs when the testicle twists on its connective tissue, impeding blood flow. Testicular torsion signs include:
- Acute abdominal pain
- Slow, stiff gait
This condition is not only painful for the pet, but can also quickly lead to testicle damage or death.
Pets can get into enough mischief that warrants an emergency room visit on their own. Reducing or eliminating their risk for reproductive emergencies by having them spayed or neutered by your family veterinarian makes sense on many levels. However, if your pet develops a reproductive emergency, your Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team is here for you—call us.